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Respiratory Failure

What is respiratory failure?

Respiratory failure, also known as respiratory acidosis, is a condition that occurs when the lungs cannot remove all of the carbon dioxide the body produces. As a result, body fluids become too acidic. 


Symptoms may include: 


Exams and tests to diagnose respiratory failure include:


Treatment is aimed at the underlying lung disease, and may include: 

  • Bronchodilator drugs to reverse some airway obstruction 

  • Methods to stop smoking 

  • Noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation, or mechanical ventilation if needed 

  • Oxygen if the blood oxygen level is low 


How well you do depends on the disease causing respiratory failure. 

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